Submitted by David Dimmick
During the late 1970s I worked as a foreman renovating a WW2 Rifle range at the former R.A.F airfield at Stormy Down, Porthcawl, which was being adapted for use by the Territorial Army. Part of the job entailed removing the spent bullets from the sand at the back of the range, this was because of the high lead content for scrap value, needless to say I gathered a few souvenirs for my troubles.
Years later, whilst working as a bricklayer during the construction of the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, I happened to mention my involvement with Stormy Down to a workmate, Bill,* and he said that he had served part of his time in the R.A.F. at that particular airfield.
He recalled details of an incident which occurred during an attack on the airfield by Luftwaffe bombers. As the attack materialised Bill found himself next to an ablutions hut, into which he promptly threw himself, seeking more secure shelter under a Belfast sink. Moments later a man Bill recognised as his Commanding officer ‘Taffy’ Jones** entered the hut and also sought the same shelter as Bill’s. As the two men waited for the attack to subside, a line of machine-gun bullets came through the roof and ricocheted off the floor in front of them.
‘Taffy’ who suffered from a pronounced stammer,*** was so incensed he uttered the one word B-B-B-Bastards! He ran out of the hut, shaking his fist at the now departing enemy, sprinted across the tarmac, jumped into and took off in an unarmed Hawker Henley training aircraft in hot pursuit of the enemy bombers. He attacked a Ju88 with the cockpit Very pistol but was targeted by the enemies rear gunner who fired a burst of bullets into ‘Taffy’s’ wing, forcing him to break off and return to Stormy Down where he landed safely. ( Something of an event for Taffy, who had a history of crash landings.)****
This was not the end of the matter, for Taffy was reprimanded for his actions. I suspect that there must have been a few smiles at the Air Ministry, along with a sneaking respect for this hot-headed little Welshman! I would like to think that some of my souvenir rounds once came from Taffy’s service revolver during target practice, fired by the great man himself.
* I did discover from subsequent conversations with Bill, that he had eventually joined a special forces group put together for ‘Combined Operations.’ Once his duties required him to act as Winston Churchill’s bodyguard, when he visited the North African front. Bill also served in Italy and with Tito’s Partisans in Yugoslavia on the Balkan front. His unit had the famous actor Douglas Fairbanks Jnr attached to it as U.S. Navy liason officer.
**Taffy was in fact James Ira Thomas Jones, DSO, MC, DFC and bar,MM and was a British flying ace of the First World War. He is listed as having 37 kills to his name.
*** The stammer came from the act of being rolled down a very steep hill, in a wooden barrel as a small child.
****Throughout his brilliant R.F.C./ R.A.F. career he had a reputation of crashing on landing and this was discovered to be caused by his defective sight? Imagine what the man could have done with perfect vision!
After the war he wrote 2 books of his experiences as a pilot, and a biography of Edward Mannock another ‘ace’.
Taffy died after accidentally falling of a ladder at his home in 1960. He is buried at Canaan Chapel, Bancyfelin.